Category Archives: My Artists & Writers in Training

Chloe, the Budding Writer

Chloe had her end-of-year writing exam today. The kids had to write a story around a picture. Chloe was inspired by an illustration of two kids camping.

As I asked her what her story was about, I figured there’d be a lot of scary animals and ghost stories. The first surprise came when she told us her story was 18 pages long!

The second surprise came when she started to recount her plot. The boys went through a magic hole in the tent, created by a thunderbolt sent down from the heavens by Zeus.

Yep – the two kids, Jake and Daffy, went on a visit to Mount Olympus. Where they encountered Apollo, Hera, Ares, et al. And went to war, which the gods didn’t mind because they knew they couldn’t die. Anyway, the story was fairly involved. And she brought it back full circle – with the boys agreeing to return to Olympus every two weeks to visit their new friends, and going home to their parents to tell them about their incredible adventures.

I felt very proud as Chloe told her story. And it just goes to show that reading with your children does make a difference. When I think she’s not listening, she usually is – at least with one ear.

also got 100% on her last math and spelling tests. A terrific way to end the school year – go, Chloe!


I just spent the last 1/2 hour reading the first three chapters of Roald Dahl’s Matilda with Chloe. We finished A Wrinkle in Time yesterday, which she loved. But it was a little intense, and I thought we’d do well to enjoy some lighter fare.

By the third chapter, we were laughing so hard we were crying. It was the image of a little boy with a finger superglued inside his nose that did it. And the language, of course. We laughed and laughed and laughed.

It was actually difficult to put the book down, but I didn’t want to set precedent by reading too much at once, or else she’d be pleading with me to read and read and read every night. And I’d go insane. What I’m hoping is that this might actually be the book that pushes her to read on her own.

You’d think she’d get it. If she reads on her own, she can read when she wants. She wouldn’t need to depend on her mommy’s schedule for reading sessions. She’s a great reader, so that’s not an issue. I like to think that it’s simply because she loves my company and how I read to her.

In the meantime, I will admit that I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow’s visit with Matilda. On second thought, maybe she should wait for the next book before she discovers the joys of reading on her own.

A Wrinkle in Time

Chloe and I were at the bookstore some time ago, so that I could better describe the joys of reading a good book.

As we perused the aisles, I came across A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, and I had a flash of nostalgia – I vaguely remembered reading the book as a child, and remembered enjoying it very much.

So we bought it. And we finally started reading it last Friday. This is one I’m reading to her – and we’re up to page 180. And she loves it, mostly. And I’m loving it all over again.

Chloe is very concerned about Charles Wallace, the little brother who is brainwashed by IT during the children’s attempt to save their father. She was afraid that she’d have nightmares last night, but I let her watch some junk TV with me for a few minutes, and that fear quickly dissipated. And this morning, I had to read to her for another 1/2 hour.

Tonight’s reading posed a different problem for my big girl. She’s getting frustrated because she WANTS and NEEDS to know what happens to little Charles in the book. I’ve assured her that’s there’s a happy ending (I don’t want to ruin the ending for her, but I sure as hell don’t want her to freak out on me because the book is a bit beyond her years, and a little scary). But that’s not good enough. When I asked her if she was enjoying the book, she stubbornly said, “No!” So I asked her if she wanted to stop reading the book. “No!”

She sees that we’re getting to the end, but that we’re not quite there. And she’s getting impatient to find out what happens to Meg, Charles and Calvin. I am willing to bet that tomorrow morning she accosts me again – throwing the book in my face – demanding that I read some more. By week’s end, we’ll have finished the book. And she’ll be begging me for the next one in the series, A Wind in the Door.

Chloe’s Story for School

Unbeknownst to Chloe, her homework has provided me with tonight’s blog entry. Which is a good thing, because I have no idea what I would have written about otherwise. I honestly can’t believe I’ve kept this blog up for as long as I have, and into my third week of work, no less. Anyway, on with the story.

Chloe’s class is learning about storytelling this week, and for one of her assignments, she had to write a story, based on an image of two alien-like creatures sifting through garbage. Following is her masterly (at least for a 7-year old) and succinct interpretation of the picture and ode to science fiction writers everywhere:

“The Two Weird Space Creatures”

Twinny and Twinster landed in a city dump and started to eat the garbage. Twinny and Twinster are odd space creatures. The queen of their planet, called Twinatwin, broke their ship because they turned her into a twin and she doesn’t like twins.

They called the queen by using their antennas and told her to look out her window, and she saw acrobats who formed in a position to spell “we’re sorry!” The queen said, “I’ll use my powers to fix your ship.” And they went back home in their ship.


We may have the makings of another Ray Bradbury or H.G. Wells on our hands. Go, Chloe, go – you little prodigy, you!

The Joys of Reading?

Chloe and I went to the bookstore yesterday so that she could choose a new series to read to herself.

Her reading skills have exploded over the last few months, to the point where she’s fully capable of reading chapter books that are geared towards older kids. She still needs some help, of course, with pronunciation or definitions, but her progress is really exciting.

After a good amount of browsing the aisles, she decided to give Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” a try. Since yesterday, she’s made it to chapter two, and seems to be enjoying it. She even brought it with her in the car today so that she’d have something to do on the way to the science museum. So far, so good.

Yet despite the positive signs, I’m interested to see whether she’ll finish the book on her own. It’s funny, because when I was a kid, reading was one of my primary activities. Sure, we watched TV, but choices were limited and there was only so much we wanted to watch. And although Chloe is a pretty precocious reader, it’s definitely not the first thing she would choose to do if she had free time. She’d watch TV for hours on end if we’d let her, or play on the computer. Reading is low on the totem pole of her chosen pastimes.

This saddens me. I recounted stories of staying up past midnight as a young adolescent to finish a book. I tried to explain to her why I was so happy that she was reading so well. The idea of being transported to another world, the wonders of using words to tell a story…I hope I’m making a dent in her growing brain.

Fewer and fewer children read today because they have so many other distractions. I just cross my fingers that one day my girls will come to realize that books are more satisfying and more exciting than any TV show or computer game. Fat chance, no?